Tag Archives: Staples High School robotics team

Roundup: School, Robots, Cycling …


It’s an annual tradition: On the first day of school, parents take photos of their kids at the Juniper Road/Caccamo Lane bus stop.

Here’s this year’s edition. Parents: Save for posterity. Kids: Don’t be embarrassed — decades from now, you’ll appreciate this.

PS: The little one on the far left? He’ll be graduating before you know it.

(Photo/Pam Long)


Another tradition: Staples High School senior girls design t-shirts, decorate their cars, then drive in a motorcade to school.

Here are just a few of the 200-plus seniors girls from the Class of 2022:

(Photo/Lisa Rowan)


In the mid-2010s, Staples had one of the top robotics teams in the world.

Now a new generation of students is gunning for the top again.

Ben Saxon — a junior who is a black belt in karate, and a competitor on both the squash and math teams — has added robotics to his resume.

He’s got a 3D printer, and has built robots at home. He and 8 or so passionate friends are recruiting others to join them, with a competitive club. 

They’ve begun fundraising, to purchase components including hardware and software. Their goal is $3,500.

Click here to help. Click below for an intriguing video, and to meet team members.


Speaking of Staples:

For his 40th reunion last weekend, 1981 graduate Dan Gallant created a race-quality cycling jersey. The front includes an image of the school; the back, the Staples seal.

Classmates loved it. One suggested it might be popular beyond just those alums.

Great idea! Even better: Dan is donating all proceeds to Staples Tuition Grants.

Click here to order. Show your pride — and support STG. NOTE: Today is the ordering deadline!

Front, rear and side views.


How hard is it to make a pizza? (The real — not microwave — kind.)

You can find out on Sunday, September 26 (10 a.m. to noon).

Wakeman Town Farm fires up its outdoor wood-burning pizza oven for a fun class.

Chef Annalyce Loretto and pizzaiolo Carl McNair will teach how to make traditional pizza — ending, of course, with samplings. Ages 12+ are welcome.

All ingredients and materials are provided. Click here to register.

Also ahead at WTF:

  • Build-a-grazing board (food & wine experience): September 30, 7 p.m.
  • Al fresco fall farm dinner with chef Genee Habansky of Herbaceous Catering, with locally sourced ingredients: October 2, 6 p.m.
  • Oktoberfest dinner with AMG Catering’s Alison Milwe Grace: October 14, 5:30 p.m.

Click here for details.

Celebrating Wakeman Town Farm’s pizza oven.


If you can’t find a MoCA Westport fall course that piques your interest, you haven’t looked hard enough.

The Newtown Turnpike museum offers classes in categories like Exploring Art Together for Babies and Toddlers, Academic & Art Enrichment, Digital Animation and Cinematography, Drawing, Fashion and Floral Design.

Click here for the catalogue. Then expand your horizons!


A reminder: The Westport Country Playhouse’s “Stars on Stage” shows will be taped tonight (August 31), and tomorrow and Thursday (September 1 and 2) — and will be edited, then broadcast to a national television audience.

There are 2 shows each night, at 7 and 9 p.m. A few tickets remain ($75 and $20). Complimentary tickets go to first responders, students, teachers, and groups and organizations.

For tickets or more information, click here, call 203-227-4177, or email boxoffice@westportplayhouse.org.

(From left): Shoshana Bean, Gavin Creel: Westport Country Playhouse stars.


(Photo/JC Martin)


And finally …  what better song for August 31?

Wrecker Robots Rule

Brian Williams calls the First Tech Challenge “The Super Bowl of Smarts.” Last year’s FTC world championship opened with an address by Bill Gates. Earlier this year, President Obama attended an FTC regional competition.

Soon the NBC news anchor, Microsoft genius and “education president” may all sing the praises of Staples — at least, the school’s robotics team.

The “Wreckers 577” team obliterated 21 schools from New England, New York and Pennsylvania at last weekend’s tournament at Kingswood Oxford School.  The Wreckers defeated all other teams in their division through 5  challenges, then swept the semifinals and finals.

Even more remarkable:  Though the team was mentored by a pair of Staples students — Haris Durrani and Timothy Yang — they easily defeated much more well-funded teams, including 2 mentored by MIT faculty.

If you’re unfamiliar with robotics tournaments:  Each match of the challenge includes 2 types of play.  Autonomous relies on pre-programmed routines; the other is operator-controlled.

Each team completes various tasks.  This year they — the robots they built, that is — took batons out of a holder; maneuvered across “mountains,” planks and rough terrain to place the batons in cups on casters; and balanced on a plank with casters.

The regional championship qualifies the Wreckers 577 robotics team for the world championship, set for St. Louis in April.  Over 500 teams from 50 countries will compete in the Edward Jone Dome.

Team members include Haris Durrani, Timothy Yang, Alec Solder, Erin Gandelman, Dylan Roncati, Mrinal Kumar and John Solder.  Joshua Schwartz provided value time and insights.  If they and their robots keep rolling, they may soon field a congratulatory phone call from President Obama.

He calls the Super Bowl winners.  He should do the same for the Super Bowl of Smarts.